I keep saying I visited the Pride Lands but it turns out not as many people as I’d hoped understand my references to The Lion King. My group kind of thought I was a weirdo yelling out “PUUMBA!” every time I saw a warthog. No matter; my trip to the Masai Mara was still amazing.
I saw three of the Big Five animals: lions, elephants (!), and buffalo. Missing and rare were the leopard and rhino, the latter of which there are apparently only 20 in the 1,510 km2 park (citation: my tour guide, Joshua).
I have about 700 more pictures (about 400 of which were just me trying to figure out the settings to my sister’s camera) but as you can see, my shutter speed, ISO, white balance (I’m just throwing words out there, I don’t know wtf I’m talking about) are all a bit off so I’d like to edit them a bit before posting larger versions.
The whole safari itself was pretty incredible and I’d definitely recommend three days/two nights as the perfect amount of time for it. Two days is too short considering the 12 hour round trip (3 hours of which are on a jarring dirt road) from Nairobi, and four days may have been too long as each morning started between 6-7am and ended about 10 hours later. I’d say from the full day game drive, I saw animals about 70% of the time, but otherwise it’s a lot of driving on dirt roads. That being said, there would likely be a lot more animals around during migration. I booked the Masai Mara Camping Safari with Explorer Kenya and they were great, but these guys, along with many other tour companies, sort of all function under the same umbrella. They all depart daily and spread out their guests amongst each other depending on traveler budget and pick-up areas in Nairobi.
We camped (glamped) in some pretty fancy schmancy tents at Lenchada Tourist Camp that included full beds with mattress and clean bedding, mosquito nets and ensuite bathrooms with flushing Western toilets and hot showers. Wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the campground but after 12 hour days on the road and on game drives, my brain was a bit mush.
One thing that bothered me a bit was watching all the safari vans and trucks chase down the animals, especially the big cats, each time they emerged. I respect the Reserve and the protection against poaching, though, so I suppose privacy is a small price to pay for their lives. Still, it makes me wonder if they’re really able to live in a natural environment with so much human interruption going on around them. I’m not educated enough in the matter to form a strong opinion, but it does make me pity them a bit when they seem to just want to be left alone.
Anyway, the whole experience was nothing short of phenomenal and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I may try out the Serengeti National Park and take my little guy along with me next time.
Little side note on bringing kids on a safari – Great idea and I’m not being sarcastic (my high school math teacher once told me to stop using sarcasm as a defence mechanism and I’m still struggling with it 15 years later). However, I’d strongly recommend waiting until they’re at least 6-7 years old. This doesn’t come from my own experience, but from conversations with other travellers with children. We also had a one-year-old on the first day of our safari and, while I fully condone starting kids out young, it’s really fucking hard to have a baby on a trip like that (6 hour car ride, 2.5 hour game drive, tenting, etc). I can’t imagine the parents enjoying it all that much as most of their time was spent trying to get the munchkin to stop crying.
Some unedited highlights:
I just want to point out that I’m still uncertain of how Masai/Maasai is spelled as I’ve seen it both ways on both the internet and around the Reserve. If anyone knows and can confirm with a non-Wiki reference, that’d give me some piece of mind.
Next up, I’m flying to Mombasa and staying at Diani Beach for a few days and work on my much needed tan.